If you’ve ever run paid efforts in B2B, you probably have heard a version of the following: “Brand search is the most efficient channel for us. Everything else is just too expensive and doesn’t have a good return.”
Experienced marketers know there is a problem with that statement. Brand traffic doesn’t happen in a vacuum and a brand search will never happen without multiple previous online and offline marketing efforts. This is the reason we are strong proponents for diversification of marketing efforts to ensure the success of any B2B brand.
As we outlined in our post about finding the optimal media mix for B2B marketing, social platforms are critical to test and run alongside search and programmatic.
The issue is not only choosing the right platform for the brand, but the type of campaigns, targeting, and creative that will help social fuel the brand without unnecessary waste.
While there are many social platforms, we’ll discuss the two most prolifically used in B2B: LinkedIn and Meta, and two others that are worth testing: Quora and Reddit.
Effective B2B Paid Advertising in LinkedIn
LinkedIn by far is the commonplace choice for B2B, and for good reason. LinkedIn is geared towards professionals and possesses rich data on its users. There is also typically very little brand risk with negative comments when working with LinkedIn as opposed to other social platforms.
LinkedIn, however, can result in high waste due to high CPCs if marketers are not careful.
The most important things to note about running paid ads in LinkedIn are:
- Do not spread your budgets too thin
- Targeting is critical. Think Goldilocks: not too wide, not too narrow
- Measure incrementality, not direct response. While you will get leads, depending on the funnel, LinkedIn’s impact will outstretch the platform
- Supplement your paid efforts with organic engagement. Frequent postings and engagement on relevant topics will help set the brand as a trusted thought leader in the field (which will result in a higher CVR)
Targeting in LinkedIn
Within paid, LinkedIn’s greatest value is the ability to target specific organizations, known as account-based marketing (ABM), and jobs/titles. Word of caution on targeting using job titles: remember, users choose their job titles free-form style so to target all relevant users, search for more than the strict job title name.
Lookalikes is an option within LinkedIn but best to avoid in most instances. While it might work on Meta, LinkedIn’s paid ads are best suited for specific targeting.
Campaign Objectives and Types
For the most part, advertisers should stick to driving traffic to their site. Lead gen objective ads (form-fills) will provide high CVR, but typically carry a higher degree of low-quality leads, so ensure your sales team has the right guidance to deal with lead flow as you are testing.
When it comes to ads, the #1 objective is to catch attention.
- If videos are used, real people perform better than animation
- Do not use too much text in banners
- Use orange, green, yellow, purple, or red
There are many more options and optimizations on LinkedIn available to test. If you want to learn more about LinkedIn marketing, one really great LinkedIn B2B expert to follow is AJ Wilcox.
Effective B2B Marketing in Meta
Most marketers are hesitant about running B2B initiatives in Meta for prospecting. While you’ll find great CPL and a high number of leads when using the in-platform form-fill, your sales team will not appreciate the high number of poor quality, unqualified leads they have to sift through on a daily basis.
However, this does not mean Meta is ineffective for B2B.
Targeting and Clear Ad Copy Are Key
When using form-fill ads, the form must contain filtering questions that will allow the sales team to focus on the highest quality. Forms that fall below the “sales” threshold can be diverted to email or messaging campaigns.
The ad copy must be clear to the users. We’ve seen many cases when users have mistaken a business’ ads for other services. Use the most prominent space in the text, images, and first seconds of a video to detail the purpose of the business.
While Meta has a lot of data on users, targeting users for B2B on meta is not as simple as it seems. Meta will use ad engagement and conversions as positive signals to find new similar audiences, but if your ads are resulting in unqualified leads, Meta is fed with negative signals that will turn into a negative feedback loop.
The targeting on Meta for B2B should start at a smaller scale (through remarketing and customer list first) and then tested and developed over time.
Remarketing and Customer Lists
Targeting users who are already familiar with your brand and using a customer match list (preferably using an automated tool that directly connects to your CRM like Klaviyo) will also help generate better targeting and lead quality.
From a remarketing perspective, instead of targeting every site visitor, it is best to narrow the signal for higher quality prospects, e.g., users who have visited more than two pages or remained on site more than one minute.
Unlike LinkedIn, Meta is not designed for B2B audiences and users rarely change the “job title” settings; however, users on Meta might be interested in B2B services even if it’s not on their mind at the moment.
To capture the right audience, marketers need to fully understand their audience’s interests and test which one provides the best positive signals to Meta (through lead quality, time on site, number of page views). For example, a company selling software who has identified that data analysts are influencers in the buying process could consider targeting users interested in Excel.
There are many more options and optimizations on Meta that we’ve seen work for our B2B clients. If you want to dive deeper into the details of Meta marketing, one really great Meta expert to follow is Bram Van der Hallen.
Other Channels to Test
With so many social platforms available, it’s critical to know your audience – where do they spend their time and what are they doing there – because that’s where you want to put your paid advertising dollars. Given all the options, no one channel or strategy will be the right fit for every B2B. Having said that, here are two additional options worth testing.
While technically Quora is not a social channel, but a search engine with over 200 million users, not many B2B marketers have tested the channel. This is good news because the low competition means CPCs are typically lower than Google, LinkedIn, or Meta.
Users on Quora are active, asking questions, seeking information, and ready to make decisions.
Quora targeting options are quite extensive from contextual, audience, and behavior.
If Facebook is people you know sharing things you don’t care about, Reddit is things you care about shared by people you don’t know.
Reddit has over 215 million US users that are active and engaged (the average user spends 36 minutes/day on the platform). And since there are no big influencers on Reddit, users trust recommendations.
Much like Quora, the lower competition means a much lower CPC than Google and FB, especially for B2B.
Whether it’s in LinkedIn, Reddit, or other social platforms, B2B marketers must not shy away from engaging in paid social and the options are plentiful. Each channel and targeting should be tested gradually over time and optimized to avoid possible pitfalls and find the right mix of budget, bid, targeting, and ads that result in high quality leads.
Contact us to talk about your experience in paid social – we’d love to hear from you about your business goals and other B2B marketing challenges!
Want to know more? Read about our strategies and tactics for using programmatic in B2B marketing, top industries we’ve seen getting exceptional results in B2B marketing, a case study of a B2B construction client who saw 1000% ROI from our experts’ combined PPC and SEO efforts, and how our PPC team helped increase a B2B SaaS client’s SQL volume 260% in less than a year.